Families welcome Marines returning from Iraq

October 1, 2009 6:54:50 PM PDT
A Marine reserve company which served on patrols and provided security in Iraq for the last year is finally home. The last of the San Bruno-based Echo Company reserve unit got to reunite with their families.

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For the families who have waited and worried these past six months, the sight of the busses rolling in was something to cheer.

There was joy, tears and hugs for the Marines who've spent the past year in the city of Ramadi, patrolling alongside Iraqi soldiers. It's a mission their company commander said went so well, they're home a month early.

"They were conducting operations completely on their own, gathering intelligence, analyzing, processing conducting operations, arresting bad guys and they did a wonderful job, so our mission was complete," said Company Commander Major Kevin Charter.

Corporal Clinton Bickham III's welcome home, was organized by this father, Clinton Bickham II, also a Marine.

The elder Bickham wanted this, in part because there was no welcome home for him when he returned from Beirut after 220 of his brigade were killed in the bombing of their barracks.

This time there were no casualties and every Marine from Echo Company survived.

For Bickham's mom it's an end to months of worry and for his father, it's an opportunity to close the circle. He gathered 60 of his neighbors and friends on the front lawn this afternoon for a presentation.

"Some of our hero's paid the ultimate sacrifice upon the alter of freedom so that we can enjoy all of these neat things that we get to do today we do give you this it says your service our freedom, and welcome home son," he said.

For Corporal Clinton Bickham III, it was a little overwhelming.

"I hope everybody over there can feel this way when they get home. I want to break down and cry right now but it feels awesome to be home," he said.

A father's gift to his son, a Marines service to his country and a community grateful Echo Company is home safe in South San Jose.

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